Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

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Giordano Lu

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Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostFri Oct 20, 2017 3:16 pm

Hi friends,

we've been migrating the entire audio production of a independent feature to Fairlight for the past 3 months. I' d like to share my impressions with the community after the first 3 months.

First, it's surprising that after many months after R14 release, we don't see much reviews on Fairlight. A quick google will lead to articles that announces it, as a revolutionary move from BMD (which is , surely), but not an in-depth review of it. So maybe this small post might add a lit bit of perspective to the current state of FL.

We've been working with Vegas (as audio editor only) and Reaper for many years. So, our perspective is from guys who love light-speed interfaces for editing, true multi-threading engines, and above everything, accuracy. The reason we are migrating everything to FL is for future proofing. We don't want in 10 years to have to open both Resolve V 22 (LOL) and legacy tools to remix the audio. Also, we don't want to depend on 3rd party plugins used in those legacy tools. We want to have a one-project, no-external dependency project file that contains everything. For that, we are generating inside Vegas and Reaper something that we call "TTM"s, (Track to Mix). We import statically these TTM into Resolve and we use fairlight just for mixing the tracks and applying basic corrections such as EQ and compressing. All the "dirty work" of ADR, Noise reduction, de-verb, de-essers, all done in the legacy tools. We are confident that if someday we need to change parameters at that level, we can open the legacy projects just for that piece of audio and regenerate the TTM, but this scenario is rare.

So, here we are, at Fairlight tab will all TTMs out in place. Unfortunately, our experience in Fairlight is way below reasonable. I'm going to put some points we have been "tolerating" during this process.

1 - First of all, the waveform engine is terrible. Basic things as independent-thread waveform generation seems to be very laggy. Apparently the engine is generating the waveform everytime we zoom in or out, which is weird, since it could be simply cached (Vegas does it is sfk files, for instance, and it is ultra fast). Also, the lower part of the waveform is just a mirror of the upper part , which is a basic mistake, and a waste of space.

2 - The sound output is erratically out of sync, sometimes it plays on sync, some times it doesnt. I have a feeling that whenever some thread is calculating something, it gets out of sync. If you wait a little bit, it gets in sync again

3 - the ballistics of the VU meters. They drop slowly and linearly. Also, it shows activity in muted tracks, which is confusing, and usually is out of sync (a quick test with a big peak audio will play it before the VU peaks)

4 - There is no way to draw a track level envelope. In another post I did, I asked about how to automate volume, which is possible by "real-time"ly moving the faders. This is annoying because usually we prefer to draw the envelopes in a track level way, so , for instance, we can mix music in a graphic way.

5 - The edit page plays way lower than fairlight page. Not sure why, maybe it's on purpose ?

6 - vertical zoom is available only for the track height, not for the waveform height. In Vegas, for instance, a priceless tool is to increase the zoom level of the waveform only. This gives you the ability to fine sync audio with lower gains without mess with the actual gain. This is useful to mach backgrounds in continuity. In FL, we have to both increase the track height and the clip gain so the waveform gets bigger , then you can synchronize between clips.

7 - clip overlapping showing both waveforms one in the top of the other slightly transparent. This is another feature in Vegas that we miss in FL, very useful to do some frankstein editing of dialogues specially, or to match the beat of some music that you want to cut/edit.

8 - several minor bugs. This is less serious as they might solved in time. But one of the most annoying is : when I import a modo media in a stereo track, it routes the mono to the left channel only. It should simply replicate the left to the right to make it sound mono yet conserving the type of the track (this was edited to be more accurate in the description of the bug). Another, just found, nested timelines dont respect the muted tracks in the lower layers (they still outputs, even being muted, which doesnt happen when you have the inner timeline opened itself).


9 - finally, speed. Everything in FL seems slower. We have projects in reaper with 30+ tracks that scrolling, zooming and dragging is light-fast. A simple 4 tracks in FL has painful UI performance. Even in our best workstation with (an I7 with 32 G Ram) we clearly feel the difference.


Again, this is just our perspective of FL so far. Surely BMD is working to improve it, and that's why we are putting our bets on it and migrating everything. However, it would be great if someday we can do the whole editing in FL, which is something that we don't consider at this moment, as we prefer to do the editing in Vegas/Reaper and just generate the TTMs for basic mixing in FL.

Please let me know your thoughts, I'm very curious about other people's opinion on FL so far.
Last edited by Giordano Lu on Thu Oct 26, 2017 1:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Klaus Erharter

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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostSat Oct 21, 2017 9:27 pm

Thanks for the report.
I want to add, that even simple panning does not work.
Moving the panner on a stereo track has no effect at all.
Paning a mono track to the right has no sound output.
Assigning a different then ch 1,2 to mains does not output sound in Fairlight page, but does output in edit page.
Multiple outputs also play out in edit page, but only one at a time in Fairlight page.

So at this time audio post ist not possible even for the simpliest tasks.

I would suggest Blackmagic to provide a working version of Fairlight standalone software like the Dream Solo, and maybe make sync to Resolve possible with ReWire, or MTC and MMC, or TrilevelSync and RS422, until the Resolve-Fairlight works properly.

Klaus
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Reynaud Venter

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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostSat Oct 21, 2017 9:46 pm

Klaus Erharter wrote:I want to add, that even simple panning does not work.
Moving the panner on a stereo track has no effect at all.
If you reduce the “Spread” parameter in the Panner, does that allow panning a stereo source?

Paning a mono track to the right has no sound output.
Not experiencing this issue here, with any fixed channel configurations (i.e. stereo, 5.1, and 7.1).

What is your routing and Buss configuration?

Assigning a different then ch 1,2 to mains does not output sound in Fairlight page, but does output in edit page.
Not experiencing this issue either.

What is your routing and Buss configuration?

Multiple outputs also play out in edit page, but only one at a time in Fairlight page.
Also not an issue on my system.
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Reynaud Venter

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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostSun Oct 22, 2017 8:59 am

Giordano Lu wrote:1 - Also, the lower part of the waveform is just a mirror of the upper part , which is a basic mistake, and a waste of space.
Agreed, the waveform engine requires a lot more work.

For intense audio editing Resolve isn't quite capable quite yet, and this issue contributes quite heavily (especially for audio restoration duties), hence I still rely on my editor of choice soundBlade (which still features the most accurate waveform system).

2 - The sound output is erratically out of sync, sometimes it plays on sync, some times it doesnt. I have a feeling that whenever some thread is calculating something, it gets out of sync. If you wait a little bit, it gets in sync again
Not experiencing this issue on my system.

3 - the ballistics of the VU meters. They drop slowly and linearly. Also, it shows activity in muted tracks, which is confusing, and usually is out of sync (a quick test with a big peak audio will play it before the VU peaks)
Not experiencing this issue on my system either. Metering Ballistics have no issues.

4 - There is no way to draw a track level envelope. In another post I did, I asked about how to automate volume, which is possible by "real-time"ly moving the faders. This is annoying because usually we prefer to draw the envelopes in a track level way, so , for instance, we can mix music in a graphic way.
Not implemented yet, but this functionality is no doubt in the pipeline.

One workaround is to automate Clip Gain.

5 - The edit page plays way lower than fairlight page. Not sure why, maybe it's on purpose ?
Not experiencing this issue on my system.

On another thread it appears this may be an issue with certain Windows installs. But, it doesn't appear to be widespread as less than a handful (3 users?) have reported the issue here.

This is definitely not an issue on any OS X-based system I have tested with.

6 - vertical zoom is available only for the track height, not for the waveform height. In Vegas, for instance, a priceless tool is to increase the zoom level of the waveform only. This gives you the ability to fine sync audio with lower gains without mess with the actual gain. This is useful to mach backgrounds in continuity. In FL, we have to both increase the track height and the clip gain so the waveform gets bigger , then you can synchronize between clips.
This a quote from Peter Chamberlain in another thread:
"I'm familiar with the requirement and its in our consideration list..long list I'm afraid."

viewtopic.php?f=21&t=64898


7 - clip overlapping showing both waveforms one in the top of the other slightly transparent. This is another feature in Vegas that we miss in FL, very useful to do some frankstein editing of dialogues specially, or to match the beat of some music that you want to cut/edit.
You mean like this?

Image

Scrubbing while moving Audio Clips is something I use a lot, and the "transparent waveforms" are a useful second witness.

8 - several minor bugs. This is less serious as they might solved in time. But one of the most annoying is : when I import a stereo media in a new track, I want the track to be stereo by default. If I import a mono, then the track should be mono. I have always to "convert track type to.." to match the audio imported.
The Reaper implementation is the most flexible and user friendly.

This is another of my over 120 feature requests, but for now I simply set Timeline "Audio Track Type" setting to Mono and then manually "convert track type to..". It's a bit of a pain but it's at least workable for the time being.

And what's most bizarre, if imports a mono audio in a mono track, the audio outputs only at the left channel
Not an issue on my system.

What is your routing and Buss configuration?

9 - finally, speed. Everything in FL seems slower. We have projects in reaper with 30+ tracks that scrolling, zooming and dragging is light-fast. A simple 4 tracks in FL has painful UI performance. Even in our best workstation with (an I7 with 32 G Ram) we clearly feel the difference.
Even with 96 audio tracks, the performance between the Edit and Fairlight pages are closely matched with regard to scrolling, and dragging of audio clips around on the Timeline.

Zooming is sometimes a little more fluid on the Edit page, but the Fairlight page isn't exactly slow and performance improves with each new build. The Resolve developers aren't sitting on their hands, they're actively improving performance.

Resolve relies much more heavily (exclusively?) on the GPU than the CPU.

Conversely, Reaper relies exclusively on the CPU for UI performance (the GPU usage rarely increases, whereas CPU usage always does). Hence the disparity in performance between the two applications on your system.

Which GPU do you have installed, and does it at least meet the system minimum requirements?
.
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Jean Claude

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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostSun Oct 22, 2017 9:37 am

On windows 10, a bit like Reynaud: Not having issues on my system. The only thing I expect for Fairlight is the return of the group link that was present in the Beta and that disappeared. I hope this return soon because it would simplify many things. :)
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Giordano Lu

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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostSun Oct 22, 2017 2:27 pm

Reynaud Venter wrote:You mean like this?


Almost Reynaud, in your clip we dont see two waveforms (one at the top of the other), the top one got overlapped in a silent portion of the lower one. Also, when you overlap them, we dont see the automatic log crossfades appearing automatically. I'll try to do a similar clip as you did using vegas to demonstrating.

Reynaud Venter wrote:What is your routing and Buss configuration?


Only the very trivial approach. tracks routing to master which is hooked at the system audio output


Reynaud Venter wrote:Which GPU do you have installed, and does it at least meet the system minimum requirements?
.


it's a GTX1070, an I7 with 32G, decklink and SSD drives. Im assuming this spec should be more than enough.

Do you think specific hardware might be a constraint in FL ? I mean, I trying to compare with Vegas/Reaper in the same hardware scenario, so, it should show a little bit of the status of FL development, shouldnt it ?
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Reynaud Venter

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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostSun Oct 22, 2017 2:46 pm

Giordano Lu wrote:in your clip we dont see two waveforms (one at the top of the other)
Perhaps Layered Editing Mode is clearer:
LayeredEditing.gif
LayeredEditing.gif (1003.51 KiB) Viewed 1661 times


Also, when you overlap them, we dont see the automatic log crossfades appearing automatically.
The manual approach is much more flexible:

ThemFadesThemFades.gif
ThemFadesThemFades.gif (865.04 KiB) Viewed 1646 times
Last edited by Reynaud Venter on Sun Oct 22, 2017 3:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Charles Bennett

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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostSun Oct 22, 2017 2:56 pm

With regard to panning, I have found that with a stereo track to a stereo output the pan has no effect. But if you use the rotate control, it pans.
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Jean Claude

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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostSun Oct 22, 2017 3:00 pm

Hi Charles, did you try with PAN automation?
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Reynaud Venter

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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostSun Oct 22, 2017 3:08 pm

Charles Bennett wrote:With regard to panning, I have found that with a stereo track to a stereo output the pan has no effect. But if you use the rotate control, it pans.
If you reduce the "Spread" parameter in the Panner, is panning a stereo source now possible?
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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostSun Oct 22, 2017 9:37 pm

I've recently switched from Premiere Pro to Davinci Resolve 14 (free) as my main NLE and I cannot find a way to adjust left and right stereo channel volumes independently. I only see faders for track volumes. Am I missing something?
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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostSun Oct 22, 2017 11:24 pm

Reynaud Venter wrote:
Giordano Lu wrote:in your clip we dont see two waveforms (one at the top of the other)
Perhaps Layered Editing Mode is clearer:

Also, when you overlap them, we dont see the automatic log crossfades appearing automatically.
The manual approach is much more flexible:



Ok, now I understand, this is not the same. It's good, but not quite the same. The moment you release the dragging, the overlapping with the transparent audio on the back goes away. Also the clips dont get actually overlapped, the portion overlap is actually deleted. Vegas actually keeps both portions and automatically adds the cross fades, making a much more smooth transition. Also, you can control manually the log factor later, but a basic one is added for you right away during the dragging process.
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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostMon Oct 23, 2017 5:56 pm

Like the OP, I've long edited audio in Vegas, but I'm migrating to Resolve/Fairlight, at least on a personal project, to see how I get along. I've immediately noticed two odd things, and I can't tell if my inexperience on Fairlight or limitations of FL are to blame:

    1. I route two mono tracks to a stereo sub-mix buss (i.e., 2 channels), which is then routed to the Main stereo buss. Very bog standard. I'd like to adjust the level of the sub-mix buss with a volume envelope rather than do it manually on the individual tracks. Yet, I can't find a way to do this. In more complex projects with many sub-mix busses, I'd want to fade some buss mixes in and out over time. (Against the risk of making this a FL vs. other NLE comment, I would add that doing this is extremely simple in Vegas.) I read the manual, but I can't find a way to do this. Help? Workaround? Am I thinking of this the wrong way in FL?

    2. Metering. I reduce a track fader by, say, 4 db, but the track meter does not change at all. I would expect the meter to reflect the 4 db reduction, but it doesn't. Why? I observe this in the Edit and FL pages. Have I missed something and, if so, what is it?
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Reynaud Venter

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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostMon Oct 23, 2017 6:05 pm

Steven Reid wrote:2. Metering. I reduce a track fader by, say, 4 db, but the track meter does not change at all. I would expect the meter to reflect the 4 db reduction, but it doesn't. Why? I observe this in the Edit and FL pages. Have I missed something and, if so, what is it?
Track metering is pre-fader.

viewtopic.php?f=21&t=65792
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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostMon Oct 23, 2017 6:15 pm

Reynaud Venter wrote:
Steven Reid wrote:2. Metering. I reduce a track fader by, say, 4 db, but the track meter does not change at all. I would expect the meter to reflect the 4 db reduction, but it doesn't. Why? I observe this in the Edit and FL pages. Have I missed something and, if so, what is it?
Track metering is pre-fader.

http://forum.blackmagicdesign.com/viewt ... 21&t=65792


OK. Thanks. That helps!
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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostMon Oct 23, 2017 7:26 pm

Reynaud Venter wrote:
Klaus Erharter wrote:I want to add, that even simple panning does not work.
Moving the panner on a stereo track has no effect at all.
If you reduce the “Spread” parameter in the Panner, does that allow panning a stereo source?


I changed the audio system from Metric Halo ULN8 to RME Raydat, and all my listed issues are solved (which still is strange enough).
Panning a stereo source is now possible when reducing "spread".
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Reynaud Venter

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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostMon Oct 23, 2017 7:32 pm

Klaus Erharter wrote:I changed the audio system from Metric Halo ULN8 to RME Raydat, and all my listed issues are solved (which still is strange enough).
Perhaps a conflict between MIOConsole and Resolve.

Panning a stereo source is now possible when reducing "spread".
Happy days.
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Charles Bennett

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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostMon Oct 23, 2017 9:46 pm

The trouble with reducing spread is that you are turning the stereo signal into a centered mono one which is why the pan function starts to work. So, at the moment it's true to say that there is no panning function on stereo tracks which would have a similar effect to a balance control if the left and right stereo signals were not at the same level.
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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostTue Oct 24, 2017 1:48 am

Charles Bennett wrote:So, at the moment it's true to say that there is no panning function on stereo tracks which would have a similar effect to a balance control if the left and right stereo signals were not at the same level.

You can get a stereo pan/separation function with a plug-in like Waves' Stereo Imager, which is a very useful adjustment for stereo WAV files:

Image

One huge advantage of using a plug-in to change stereo to mono (vs. doing it with the pan-pots) is that you can greatly reduce level changes, like the 3dB "Pan Law" problem.

Before anybody complains "well, we should get this free with Fairlight already," be aware that when you get a professional sound mixing/editing program, the big expense is not with the program -- it's with the plug-ins. When I had a full Pro Tools HD system some years ago, I think I had about $2K tied up in the software and then about $6000 tied up in plug-ins. The free plug-ins you get only take you so far.

I think a lot of the other comments about Fairlight are useful and helpful to people considering making the switch from Pro Tools and similar programs.
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Reynaud Venter

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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostTue Oct 24, 2017 5:44 am

Charles Bennett wrote:So, at the moment it's true to say that there is no panning function on stereo tracks which would have a similar effect to a balance control if the left and right stereo signals were not at the same level.
Pan and Balance Control are two different functions.

The free Flux Stereo Tool plugin offers both functions: https://fluxhome.com/project/stereo-tool-v3/

Image
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Klaus Erharter

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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostWed Oct 25, 2017 8:07 pm

Marc Wielage wrote:You can get a stereo pan/separation function with a plug-in like Waves' Stereo Imager, which is a very useful adjustment for stereo WAV files:

Before anybody complains "well, we should get this free with Fairlight already," be aware that when you get a professional sound mixing/editing program, the big expense is not with the program -- it's with the plug-ins. When I had a full Pro Tools HD system some years ago, I think I had about $2K tied up in the software and then about $6000 tied up in plug-ins. The free plug-ins you get only take you so far.

.


Well, yes. But panning a stereo source is absolutely basic.
You wouldn´t want to buy a plugin which let´s you start/stop/rec, do you?
And stereo panning IS implemented. It just doesn´t work.
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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostWed Oct 25, 2017 8:58 pm

Klaus Erharter wrote:
Well, yes. But panning a stereo source is absolutely basic.
You wouldn´t want to buy a plugin which let´s you start/stop/rec, do you?
And stereo panning IS implemented. It just doesn´t work.


I second you Klaus, using a plugin for such a basic thing is unthinkable.
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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostFri Jan 12, 2018 10:30 pm

Charles Bennett wrote:With regard to panning, I have found that with a stereo track to a stereo output the pan has no effect. But if you use the rotate control, it pans.


I am now facing this. But I made the mistake of experimenting with what somebody told me was a work-around: using Rotate. First off, this doesn't do at all what I want. What I want is a stereo panner which, when hard left, gives only the left input on the left output; when hard right gives only the right input on the right output, and when centered passes the left input to the left output and the right input to the right output. I don't want to sum left and right to mono and then pan that into the stereo field (which is what shrinking the spread down to a point). And I don't want what rotate does.

But now that I've played with rotate, I cannot get the bad bits out of my history. When I try to reset all the pan parameters, all the knobs go back to their zero locations, but the green and blue boxes remain rotated out of place, and the numbers next to the knobs don't have the knob's numbers in the text boxes, they have the old rotate numbers in them. Which I cannot undo.

I also note that rotate appears to be a panning function that absolutely confuses the display of panning parameters in the fairlight window. When I recorded Rotate actions, the panning parameters displayed in the audio track told less than half the story.
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Reynaud Venter

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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostSat Jan 13, 2018 5:56 pm

Michael Tiemann wrote:What I want is a stereo panner which, when hard left, gives only the left input on the left output; when hard right gives only the right input on the right output, and when centered passes the left input to the left output and the right input to the right output. I don't want to sum left and right to mono and then pan that into the stereo field (which is what shrinking the spread down to a point). And I don't want what rotate does.
In other words, you require a Balance Control and not a Panner.

Two very different things.
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Michael Tiemann

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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostSat Jan 13, 2018 7:09 pm

Reynaud Venter wrote:
Michael Tiemann wrote:In other words, you require a Balance Control and not a Panner.

Two very different things.


Exactly. Because that's the way that 99% of both analog and digital mixers pan stereo, from Mackie:

http://mackie.com/sites/default/files/P ... LZ4_OM.pdf

to Harrison:

http://www.harrisonconsoles.com/mixbus/ ... Manual.pdf

to the Open Source project Ardour:

http://manual.ardour.org/mixing/panning ... e_control/

As do Cubase, Logic, Nuendo, etc. etc. I have sent in a support request and an engineer has offered to look at it in detail next week. I think this is either just an oversight, or, more likely, something that also was working when part of the Fairlight audio system, but which broke when it was imported and not tested into the Resolve software universe.
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Malcolm Matusky

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Re: Migrating audio to Fairlight, impressions after 3 months

PostThu Apr 12, 2018 1:19 am

Fairlight fader automation is buggy for me, I lost a days work and am heading back to reaper to get a job done. Hopefully DR15 will improve things.

Adjusting fader caused all work to be deleted to head of project. Fader waveforms overlayed to the point where I could not see track due to so many waveforms layered. I have never seen a daw so buggy.

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